Article (May-2018)


New Age Labour Relations - Does & Do nots

Govindaraju NS

Designation : -   General Manager - Human Resources

Organization : -  KERN -LIEBERS (INDIA) Pvt. Ltd., Tumkur


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The time is in nobody's hands. It flies away but brings enormous changes with it and the one who is able to cope with and continuously updates skills and knowledge and adopt suitable strategies, tools and techniques stays and grows with time. The one who is not able to cope with change withers away by time.

This is very much true in managing effective labour relations. The so-called conventional strategy and approach which focus on disciplinary and punitive approach in managing industrial relations are no longer effective even though still people practice. Industrial relations is becoming more and more sensitive and important due to the fact that the generation is changing and the post - millennials are entering the employment.
They come with information on their tips with high agility and fast communication network. Today's workforce largely is a mix of X, Y & Z generation and this furthermore creates complexity in managing the effective labour relations. However, there are few 'Do's & Don'ts which are tested by time and can continue to help in running the business peacefully and maintain better industrial relations. They may need a little fine tuning and fresh look depending on the circumstances in which you are.


Do's and Don'ts can be mapped to HR Processes as well.

  • Having experienced and matured leadership on board tops the list and it includes HR. More often business makes the mistake of having less experienced HR Leader and in majority cases, HR gets the last priority in the initial stages of business development. This is a costly error in the business.
  • Make your hiring policy stronger and screen out the weeds and troublemakers in the hiring itself.
  • Establish fair compensation standards. Unfair wages and benefits are proved to be the number one reason for industrial unrest and union movement in the industry. Provide a rewarding platform for better performing individuals.
  • Treat workforce as an important asset and do all the necessary efforts to increase their efficiency, performance and more importantly build maturity through education and continuous training initiatives. The more mature human resource you create, the less problems you have.
  • Keep the workforce busy and positively engage them in company initiatives including kaizens, continuous improvement projects (CIP), CSR initiatives and etc.
  • Establish proper communication systems in the company. This is appreciated by the new generation. However, care has to be exercised in dealing with information. Any wrong communication can spoil the company environment.
  • Enable and empower line managers to handle shop floor grievances and employees independently.
  • Being fair and firm helps in sustaining the company. Most of the turbulences have caused by the unfair approach of either party. It may give a temporary gain but do not sustain in the long run. Even compromising on discipline may prove dangerous in the long run. Being firm and intolerance to indiscipline without being unfair is all time solution.
  • Approach any problem with the humane approach. We are human beings first and then management, workers, officers etc. Building trust among employees and sustaining it for longer is the key to better industrial relations. Moreover, any problems can be solved by using simple common sense. Every problem has a solution. The only requirement is to find the right solution. If unable to find solutions, use the convince strategy.
  • Balance the interests of workers and employer. Though it is difficult but not impossible.
  • Write the documents related to workers carefully. Be it appointment letter, settlement or standing orders. Prudently, cautiously and wisely drafted agreements between workers and company can be of help to solve many problems whereas carelessly drafted documents can invite problems.
  • Respect workers rights and collective bargaining. Actions focused towards building progressive union are necessary.


  • The progressive approach does not mean that compromising or being lenient. Do not compromise on the performance and discipline. Take all considered actions to avoid any violations.
  • Do not violate the law of the land. The legal system mandates compliance with provisions related to labour including wages, benefits, terms of employment and working conditions etc. These have to be followed to the best possible extent. Non-compliances will lead to the issues and unrest and there are all chances that union and workers take advantage of legal violations during adverse situations.
  • Do not ignore grievances of employees even they are very trivial. History confirms even petty issues have caused serious issues for the company. Set up an appropriate forum to redress grievances. Address all fair grievances effectively.
  • Do not get panicked if workers form a union. It is bound to happen one or the other day even you are providing the best wages and benefits. Accept to negotiate with the union and hear their expectations and views. Put employer expectations on the table and arrive at a mutual agreement.
  • Do not try to avoid external leadership in the union. The newly formed union trust their external leader more than the leader inside. Try to balance and accommodate the inclusion.
  • Avoid crossroad or cutthroat approach and policies in dealing with labour. They may provide warm feeling initially but dangerous in the long run.
  • No to unfair labour practices and exploitation of employees. This has been the major reason for workers dissatisfaction and formation of a union.
Achieving better industrial relations is a difficult task but not impossible. The above do's and don'ts do not guarantee but the probability of your success gets increased.